Washington State Penitentiary task force to meet with DOC prison director

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WALLA WALLA -- A community task force on the future of the Washington State Penitentiary will meet Wednesday with the Department of Corrections new director of prisons.

The meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the main conference room in the Walla Walla Regional Airport terminal.

Bernie Warner, who replaced Dick Morgan as the DOC's director of prisons, is scheduled to attend and discuss issues affecting the penitentiary, said Jim Kuntz, Port of Walla Walla executive director. Among these will be prison employees whose jobs could be eliminated as part of the department's efforts to reduce its budget by $50 million.

After meeting with Warner, the task force will also begin work to chart strategy for next year's legislative session, which will begin in January.

Although the Legislature this year approved $6.8 million to design new facilities at the prison, another $44 million will be needed to fund construction, Kuntz said. Plans call for new medium-security and close-custody units and expansion of the West Complex kitchen facilities to replace the aging Main Institution at the prison with modern, more-efficient facilities.

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